Universal Design for Learning can create an inclusive environment for students
- Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be used in classrooms for inclusive instruction of general education and special education students, allowing general education students access to multiple ways of learning and creating a greater sense of belonging for students with special needs, according to an eSchool News report.
- UDL provides flexible approaches to instruction that can be adapted to the individual needs of students across the learning spectrum.
- Teachers can create a more nurturing, equitable and inclusive space by using five strategies. These include the three UDL principles (multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and expression, and multiple means of engagement) as well as reflecting diversity in teaching and supporting the social justice goals of fellow teachers.
It is clear how UDL can benefit students with special needs. The curriculum design allows for students to spend more time together in a learning environment, fostering a sense of inclusivity that benefits all students in the end. It also allows special needs students to see and hear content presented in multiple ways that may increase their ability to absorb the material, since all students learn in multiple ways.
In this way, the use of UDL, like differentiated learning, can benefit students at all levels, because there are multiple pathways to learning and some work better for individual students than others. UDL differs from traditional learning in several ways, including the presentation of material in visual, auditory and tactile ways, the use of different testing formats (including oral presentations and group projects) and the increased motivation of students because of these varying methods of instruction.
However, the implementation of UDL also presents challenges. Teachers may require more professional development on the topic, especially if they have been out of school for a while. The method requires the creation of an accessible curriculum, which may require the input of multiple teachers and central office staff. Additional funding and technology resources, depending on how UDL is implemented, might also be needed. Administrators may wish to begin by implementing the approach in certain courses or by combining special education and general education classes for certain elements of instruction, such as a multimedia presentation of the concept of the lesson, in order to judge the potential benefits and challenges of this method of instruction in their school environment.
- eSchool News 5 ways to leverage UDL for student inclusivity